Twenty-one years ago, on June 3, 2002, Punjabi Wikipedia in the Gurmukhi script was launched as a domain, but the first articles were added around January 2005. It was only at the beginning of the 2010s that a community started forming around the project. As of June 2012, there were only about 2,000 articles on the project, but in 2014, it became the fastest-growing Indic-language Wikipedia after 8,000 articles were added in one year.
Charan Gill, the highest contributor on the Punjabi Wikipedia, who has written about 23 percent articles on the project, said:
Punjabi language is divided among two scripts and two Wikipedias but we still see a collaboration among the communities. New content created in Gurmukhi is quickly transliterated in Shahmukhi and sometimes vice versa. We need to foster this collaboration further.
After a period of slowdown during the pandemic, the entire community came together for Mission 50,000, a call-for-action to reach 50,000 articles, in order to celebrate the 21st birthday of Punjabi Wikipedia. The 50,000th article created on the project is about a soap-like powder made from a bush that has been used for cleaning clothes in Punjab, which doesn’t have an equivalent in other languages. This article was created by 16-year-old User Harry sidhuz, who joined the project a few years back.
Pageviews on Punjabi Wikipedia have grown 32 times from an average of 100,000 views per month back in 2008 to an average of 3.3 million views per month in 2023.
On the other hand, the Punjabi community organized itself and became the first User Group in India in 2015 and led the local organization of WikiConference India 2016. Many members of the community participated and engaged in the recently organized WikiConference India 2023, for which Punjabi Wikimedia contributor Nitesh Gill was the Conference Lead.
Gill, the only female admin on Punjabi Wikipedia, mentions:
We are a small community but our contributions and acitivities show that even a small number of committed individuals can make a big difference.
Due to the efforts of Wikimedians like her, Punjabi Wikipedia is today one of the rarest Wikipedias as out of all the biographies on the project, 52.8 percent are about women, compared to the 18.5 percent of the women's biographies on English Wikipedia.
The community faces a lot of technical challenges, especially around templates and tools. Members seek help about such challenges on the Wikimedia General chat on Telegram.
Contributor Amir Aharoni wrote in the Telegram group:
I really love how the people from the Punjabi Wikipedia keep asking technical questions here. That’s the right thing to do. I wish more people from more languages did it.
Besides the technical challenges, community members are still struggling to create policies around content and contribution. For example, policies around what would constitute a Good article in our context or a formal policy around non-free content on the site.
Mulkh Singh, a veteran Wikimedia contributor, wrote in the Punjabi Wiki WhatsApp group:
We should reflect and create a future plan. If possible, during an offline event. A few things we should discuss are; the quality of the articles, creating a platform for the skill development of newbies, and collaboration among different Wikimedia projects. We should also think about bringing new volunteers from different cities of Punjab.
Kuldeep Singh, 24, who recently became an admin on Punjabi Wikipedia after having actively contributed to both the content and the technical aspects of the project since September 2022, added:
I think we need some advanced tools and bots to help with clean-up and possible copyright violations.
It is encouraging to see that there is a group of diligent newbies who have joined the project in recent years. Some of these contributors started contributing to Wikipedia after spending a few years transcribing texts on Punjabi Wikisource. One such contributor, Tamanpreet Kaur, joined Punjabi Wikisource in 2018 when she was just 13 years old. After thousands of edits on the Wikisource, she started actively contributing to Punjabi Wikipedia in March 2022. Now, she is the fourth-highest article creator on the project, with about 2,400 articles.
The complete list of contributors with further details can be accessed at wikiscan.